A return to in-person learning requires adjustments. Teachers are re-acquainting with their students in a three-dimensional classroom rather than seeing them on a two-dimensional screen.
"When we were on Zoom, all the kids were right in front of me. Now we're in the classroom; some are in front, others are at the back. It's harder to check in with them in the same way," said a middle school faculty member. During distance learning, teachers observed that quieter students were speaking up more. Now we're back in person, some of the quieter students are voluntarily muting themselves in an environment where they are encouraged to unmute. Teachers are sensitive to this and deal with the challenge by moving around the classroom and by making sure to call on everyone during a discussion.
In conversations with K-8 teachers last week, many noted that students are continuing to be more independent, better organized and more resourceful than they would be towards the end of a typical year. The resourcefulness they showed at home on Zoom is carrying over to the classroom. One lower school teacher believes this is due in part to students owning the resources they use. There's no sharing of materials. Everyone has to be responsible for their own stuff, and they're more self-reliant.
Sharing is always better than keeping things to yourself, especially when you have more than you need, but that core value is on hold at school at present. Because of the safety protocols, lunchtime is not an opportunity for sharing. Students need to bring enough food to school for snack and lunch. Last Wednesday, I spoke to a few middle school students at snack time who had finished their snacks and were tucking into their lunchtime rations. After a few days, they will learn to pace themselves, exercise self-discipline, and maybe bring more food to school. These are good lessons.
We continue to realize the benefits of students bringing their snacks and lunches to school. Food waste is minimized, and without having to line up to get lunch, the kids enjoy a longer break between classes. An emergency snack and lunch supply are available for those who forget. Last week, two students took advantage of the stock of instant ramen and goldfish that Nancy Hutton keeps in the maintenance office. We want to deter parents from dropping off lunch during the day. No one will ever go hungry at Chandler. Having students assist in lunch and snack preparation at home is an opportunity to nurture independence and responsibility.
In Hopes and Fears: Working with Today's Independent School, ParentsRobert Evans and Michael Thompson write that research has long been clear that elaborate praise and trophies for all do not build a strong inner core in a child or foster future success academically, athletically or socially. On the contrary, what strengthens children's self-confidence is tackling and mastering developmentally appropriate challenges. Taking care of materials, bringing lunch to school, and managing food during the day, are developmentally appropriate challenges that will help to build a strong inner core in Chandler students.